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Commuting Questions(16 posts)

Commuting Questionsmbologna
Jun 26, 2002 6:56 PM
I'm new to cycling and thinking about commuting to work each day to get more miles in, but I have a lot of questions:

Do you use your regular training bike? (I know a lot of people on the forum have multiple bikes, but I only have one decent one, a Klein Quantum I bought in March.)

Where do you store your bike?

Do you leave work clothes at work or carry them?

What do you use to carry things in? (clothes, lunch, etc.)

What problems do you encounter?

Do you use your regular tires? Clipless pedals?

Any other tips, ideas or resources would be greatly appreciated!
re: Commuting Questions (long)mmquest
Jun 26, 2002 7:35 PM
I currently only have one bike as well, which will (hopefully) be the beater bike soon. I would NEVER ride a good bike to work unless I had a VERY secure place to keep it. I'm not sure I would even keep my new bike in the building for fear it would disappear when I stepped out.

I use my car for bike storage. I drive in on Monday and home on Friday, commuting the rest of the time. The bike goes on the rack if sunny or in the trunk if rainy. Note that the new bike will only be going in the trunk on the few days a week I plan to ride it (club ride days w/o chance of rain!).

I use my car as a rolling closet. Got one of those totally dorky bars that hang across the back seat to hang my clothes on. As I said, dorky, but I get to wear clothes that aren't wrinkled. I really prefer this to the laying everything in the backseat idea, which immediately took the press out of any piece of clothing.

Lunch (and breakfast) is the same thing. I bring enough for the week on Monday.

The only major problem I have is that I only have one set of winter riding gear. I live in Minnesota and it was still pretty chilly in May. I ended up having to carry leg and arm warmers home with me every day. Not the worst, but I don't like riding with my jersey pockets stuffed.

The other minor problem is rain, unless you don't want to ride in it. I don't mind, but the first time it happened I wasn't prepared. I left for work in the rain and started out cold and dry and finished up warmed up and wet. Other than being wet, it wasn't too bad. What SUCKED was having to put on cold, wet stuff for the ride home. Nothing worse than being cold AND wet. Ever since I have kept a second set of riding clothes in my car. Now I can always start of dry.

Same type of tire I always use.Kevlar belted. Personally, I would always prefer an extra 2 gms and not have to change tires. I don't think I have had a single puncture flat in the five years I have used Kevlar tires.

And yes to the pedals, too.

Happy Commuting Question Thread Day!
Nice infoMXL02
Jun 27, 2002 6:13 AM
The rants and opinions on this board are entertaining, but every once in awhile I get some good info that helps me with this sport. Thanks for the help.
Thank <i>you</i>mmquest
Jun 28, 2002 9:21 AM
With all the rants, its nice to know that what I had to say helped out!
re: Commuting QuestionsScot_Gore
Jun 26, 2002 7:42 PM

>>Where do you store your bike?
In my office

>>Do you leave work clothes at work?
Yes, I carry them in all at once. I have a plastic storage box that once a week or so I'll swing by in the car, pick it up, do laundry, then drop it off.

>>What do you use to carry things in? (clothes, lunch, etc.)
I try not to carry anything.

>>What problems do you encounter?
None so far this year, but I'm not a typical commuter. Many obstacles that can be problems for commuters I'm lucky enough to not have.
1) I live close to my work. I get decent milege by biking away from the office turning around and coming back. I can pretty much pick the distance I want to bike on my commute on a day by day basis. If I need my car that day I swing back home, shower change, and drive the rest of the way (then I'm not commuting, I know, I know).

2) There's a complete locker room and shower facility where I work.

>>Do you use your regular tires? Clipless pedals?
Yes, 700X23's and Speedplays

>>Any other tips, ideas or resources would be greatly appreciated!

If you work in a facility that offers a parking subsidy (or even if you don't) write you're congress people and urge them to support Oberstar's ammendment to the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 that will include bike commuters in the benfits enjoyed by Van & Car poolers.

Have Fun

Commuting Answersfreecarve
Jun 27, 2002 3:57 AM
Just started bike commuting twice a week. I only have one road bike( a beater bought specifically for commuting) as my first love is mountain biking. Anyway, it's about 35miles round trip for me.
If you haven't figured out a route yet, check to see if they make a bike commuter map for your area, I found one for DC and it helped alot.
At work, I have an empty drawer where I keep my commuter stuff(clothes, towel, soap, shoes, etc.). On the days I don't commute I bring in fresh clothes and a towel for the next day. For lunch, I usually bike up to a near by deli.
I don't like carrying things on my bike, so except for the basics (water, CO2 pump, tube, patch kit, multi-tool) it's all at the office waiting for me.
I keep my bike locked outside my office, but I work for the navy so the campus is pretty safe.
Also, think about leaving early, as at least here in DC any time even approaching rush hour is hell to bike in. I leave around 6am and am at my desk cleaned and showered by 7am.
Good Luck,
PS - I use clipless pedals(Time Atacs) and normal nothing special road tires.

Almost forgot - If your commute is on the longish side, expect to be really hungry once you arrive at work.
commuting to a bad areaJackDanielsFSU
Jun 27, 2002 4:48 AM
I would love to start to commute but I work in a really bad area? There isn't alot of commuters in the Detroit area so its really rare to see someone riding a bike into work. Anyone here commute to a bad area? What concerns do you have by doing that? What precautions do you take?
re: Commuting QuestionsFredrico
Jun 27, 2002 5:45 AM
Do you use your regular training bike? Well now I have to use my racing bike. It isn't geared for relaxed riding, and handles twitchy, has no fenders. Have another bike with relaxed angles, larger tires (28C), and friendlier gearing (42-26), and fenders. Very important, fenders. They keep you more or less clean of road debris during or after a shower. That stuff is really nasty.

Where do you store your bike? I just take it into the office and prop it up at the end of the hallway. Everybody's cool about that.

Do you leave work clothes at work or carry them? I carry them, carefully folded, in a big backpack and change in the mens' room or a room with a lock on the door.

What do you use to carry things in? (clothes, lunch, etc.)
The backpack, an LLBean number, has compartments for everything, spare tube, tools, comb, toothbrush, etc., wallet and keys, lunch, shoes, bike lock when I want to stop at the grocery store on the way home.

What problems do you encounter? Bike paths that run out, narrow roads with lots of cars on them, once or twice a year I may actually get wet, but I've never (knock on wood) been late for work because of a flat.

Do you use your regular tires? Clipless pedals? I use 28C, Kevlar belted is okay. You want durability rather than speed.

Any other tips, ideas or resources would be greatly appreciated! Just do it and work out the problems as you go. It's amazingly easy and trouble free to commute anywhere on a bike within a reasonable distance from where you live.

People will admire you for being part of the solution instead of part of the problem!

re: Commuting Questionsdjg
Jun 27, 2002 6:12 AM
I have a 2d road bike, which is my "official" commuter (although I've used the fancy one a number of times, as I've a pretty secure place to lock my bike).

The bike is left in the parking garage in my building, away from the prying eyes of the public, (and out of the weather). The guys who run the garage keep pretty good tabs on things.

I use regular road tires and clipless pedals. I mostly use a large lumbar pack, which just accomodates a change of clothes. I recently bought a quick release rack that attaches to the seatpost and a trunk rack type bag to go with it. The rack sort of sucks, and I think I'm going to return it. I have a gym near work where I change and shower, and where I usually keep at least a pair of slacks and shoes in a locker to lighten the load (I also keep dress shirts in the office).

No problems, except time.
#1 priority is to design a safe route...Quack
Jun 27, 2002 6:35 AM
Before you jump on and ride to work, drive a number of different routes looking for roads with wide shoulders, light traffic, good surfaces, etc. The best route will definitely not be the shortest but it's well worth the extra time. The last thing you want to do is ride a dangerous route every day. Your odds of survival are not good if you do. If you find cars having to move to avoid you, pick a different road. Motorists really get pissed when they have to avoid cyclists.

To answer your questions, I use my racing bike to commute. I figure it's the only way I'll ever justify the expense. Currently just under $.50/mile. My bike is stored in the boiler room of the building. I carry everything but shower items and shoes in a Timbuk2 DeeDog bag. My tires of choice are Michelin Axial Carbons (feel almost like race tires and last forever). Pedals are Looks but I would recommend a pedal system with a lower cleat if you'll be walking a lot.

Biggest problem is definitely traffic. My commute is 17 miles each way through suburbs of Minneapolis and there are days which I refer to as "angry-motorist days" where it seems like everyone is pissed-off and in a hurry to get to whatever lame-ass job they have and can't wait one extra second for you to get through an intersection. Riding the suburbs absolutely sucks. People are not used to seeing bikes, especially not in turn lanes at intersections. Making left turns can be pretty hair-raising occasionally.

There are a number of rewards to commuting in addition to the obvious health benefits: blowing by miles of stop-and-go traffic, having huge tailwinds that push you up above 30mph for extended periods, and the #1 reward --> having girls wave, whistle, or yell compliments at you as you're flying through traffic.

Happy commuting! Be safe!
deja vuwonderdog
Jun 27, 2002 9:39 AM

Quack, i feel like i wrote your post....except i'm in Memphis. I commute almost everyday and, by your definition, ride dangerous suburban roads with plenty of "angry-motorist days" under my belt. I agree....riding the suburbs absolutely sucks. My favorite, of the ones you listed, is blowing by miles of stop and go traffic. One day, I blew by a Ferrari and it made me feel exceptionally fast. Of course, he was crawling at 5mph, but I don't tell that part of the tale usually! :-)

#1 priority is to design a safe route...mmquest
Jun 28, 2002 9:20 AM
Just out of curiosity, I recently moved to St. Paul and was wondering how late in the season you ride to work?
re: Commuting Questionscommuterguy
Jun 27, 2002 6:58 AM
I'm new to cycling and thinking about commuting to work each day to get more miles in, but I have a lot of questions:
Do you use your regular training bike? (I know a lot of people on the forum have multiple bikes, but I only have one decent one, a Klein Quantum I bought in March.)

>I use the better of my two bikes, but it's not too fancy.

Where do you store your bike?

>I am lucky to work somewhere that has secure, dedicated indoor bike storage rooms. I would avoid outdoor storage, if for no other reason than the damage the sun can do to paint and tires.

Do you leave work clothes at work or carry them?

>I leave a set of formal business attire at the office (using dry cleaners near the office when needed) and carry in everyday casual clothes on a daily basis.

What do you use to carry things in? (clothes, lunch, etc.)

>I use a backpack. It's not ideal--even in cold weather I sweat through my jersey and the pack. However, my bike doesn't have anyplace to mount racks, and when I used panniers on my hybrid I had a lot of broken spokes.

What problems do you encounter?

>A cheap bike will not hold up under day-in, day-out commuting. I tried, and spent a lot of $ as BB, cranks, derailleurs, spokes, axles, etc. gave out. Since I bit the bullet an got a decent steel road bike with ultegra/105 components, I have had to perform only routine maintenance. My last 4K miles on a good bike were much cheaper than the first 4K miles on a cheap bike.

>Commuting after dark is possible and can be safe, but requires expensive lights and reflective clothing, and the expenditure of a lot more mental effort than daytime riding.

>Bike commuting requires you to spend money. It is cheaper than driving--a lot cheaper, when you consider all the car-related expenses besides gas and parking. But it still generates a steady stream of expenses, which my significant other sometimes objects to. E.g., new tires every 3-4 months, new tubes about as often, new shorts and tights every year or so, new bulbs for lights, etc. There is a effort to allow the transit subsidy some of us get to be used for bike commuting expenses--I hope it passes.

Do you use your regular tires? Clipless pedals?

>I use (after a lot of experimenting) kevlar-belted performance tires, because I really hate getting flats. Not the smoothest riding or longest lasting, but they have afforded me great durability.

I use clipless pedals but am ambivalent about it. If I had to deal with much more city traffic, I would go the regular pedal route, since clipping in and out is a pain in stop-and-go situations.

Any other tips, ideas or resources would be greatly appreciated!

>Assume the drivers don't see you.
re: Commuting QuestionsKEN2
Jun 27, 2002 8:19 AM
You might try a search of this site using "commute" and "commuting." There have been extensive posts on this topic in the past as well.
re: Commuting Questionslaffeaux
Jun 27, 2002 9:26 AM
Do you use your regular training bike? (I know a lot of people on the forum have multiple bikes, but I only have one decent one, a Klein Quantum I bought in March.)

I have several bikes, but only one road bike. I use it for commuting and weekend rides.

Where do you store your bike?

My company has a safe bike storage facility. If they did not it would be in my office.

Do you leave work clothes at work or carry them?

I carry my clothes back and forth. However I leave toiletries and shoes at work.

What do you use to carry things in? (clothes, lunch, etc.)

I use a hiking day pack for carrying things. The only issue is a sweaty back, but I shower when I get to work so it's not a big problem.

What problems do you encounter?

Watch out for cars that approach you at 90 degrees to your direction of travel. Many cars at intersections either fail to see you, or see you and go. Be prepared to brake.

Do you use your regular tires? Clipless pedals?

I ride 23cc Axal Pros and they do fine. I ride MTB SPDs as they are faster to clip into than road pedals.

Any other tips, ideas or resources would be greatly appreciated!

Make sure that you can take a shower at your work place!
re: Commuting QuestionsMelMo
Jun 27, 2002 11:39 AM
I commute about 6 miles each why by the usual route--sometimes longer if it's nice and I feel like it.

What bike: I have two. One is a sport-tourer, the other a dedicated touring bike. (I'm never going to be a racer.) Both are steel, and I ride them about equally since we finished swapping some parts on the tourer.

I lock my bike up in the parking garage, on a rack right in front of the garage manager's office and in eye-sight of the exit lane clerks. I've made it a point to be friendly, so hopefully they'd notice if someone else left on my bike.

I leave shoes at work, and carry clothes. I started with a suitbag style pannier, which was great for getting dressy clothes to work unwrinkled, but was heavy and acted like a sail in winds. Now I use Ortliebs. I don't have showers here, so on hot days I make an effort to putter so I don't get too foul and sweaty. I do keep toiletries for washing my face and fluffing up my hair at work. Besides my clothes, I carry assorted spare tubes, levers, a patch kit, a very basic park multitool (really only useful for cleat tightening and minor adjustments--major repairs would be right out) and a zefal road pump that fits nicely on both frames (it goes back and forth.

I also carry a TON of food to work. I usually have a banana or piece of toast at home, maybe with some juice. When I get to work, I eat a ham or turkey sandwich for breakfast, pt. 2, then I have lunch around noon, then over the course of the afternoon I eat maybe a carton of yogurt and some other snack type thing (clif bar, half a sandwich if I didn't eat it all for breakfast, bowl of instant oatmeal, etc.) Now, granted I could stand to lose some weight, but I bike mainly for enjoyment, and biking home after a day of work when you're starving is absolutely no fun, so eat up. It'll make your dieting co-workers jealous, too.

I use 700x28 Conti 2000's on the sport tourer and 27"x1.5" on the touring bike (it's old). I started on 23s and have worked my way up :) Wider tires, properly inflated, seem to resist flats better and are a hell of a lot more comfortable over our friendly local potholes. I use Time ATACs and shoes with a good bit of tread, because it sucks to put your foot down at a light and have it slide out from under you due to the oily rain-slicked roads.

Problems: Rain, dark, and wind in the winter required extra concentration for safe biking. Sweat in the summer sucks, since I have no shower. Drivers are by and large polite and friendly, but about once a day someone does something stupid that might lead to my death if I wasn't paying attention, and about once a week someone does something that seems actively malicious.

The joys are many: the appalled faces of the suits as I drip cold rainwater on them in the elevator, the slight nervousness of my co-workers who think I'm a little crazy, the capacity to eat two lunches, the open air when everyone else is trapped in a box.

Cheers, Melinda